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Head First Web Design [Paperback]

Ethan Watrall , Jeff Siarto
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (26 customer reviews)

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Book Description

January 2, 2009 0596520301 978-0596520304 1st

Want to know how to make your pages look beautiful, communicate your message effectively, guide visitors through your website with ease, and get everything approved by the accessibility and usability police at the same time? Head First Web Design is your ticket to mastering all of these complex topics, and understanding what's really going on in the world of web design.

Whether you're building a personal blog or a corporate website, there's a lot more to web design than div's and CSS selectors, but what do you really need to know? With this book, you'll learn the secrets of designing effective, user-friendly sites, from customer requirements to hand-drawn storyboards all the way to finished HTML and CSS creations that offer an unforgettable online presence.

The revised two-color edition of this book includes a free online version of the chapter on web color. You can easily access this chapter at once you register your book.

Your time is way too valuable to waste struggling with new concepts. Using the latest research in cognitive science and learning theory to craft a multi-sensory learning experience, Head First Web Design uses a visually rich format specifically designed to take advantage of the way your brain really works.

Frequently Bought Together

Head First Web Design + Head First HTML and CSS + Head First HTML5 Programming: Building Web Apps with JavaScript
Price for all three: $91.39

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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Ethan Watrall is a professor at Michigan State University where, among other things, he teaches user centered design, interactive design, interactive storytelling, game design, and game studies. He has also written several books on web and interactive design. His digital alter ego can be found at

Jeff Siarto is a Web and User Experience designer living in Chicago. He is the founder of Siarto Labs, a small design company and co-founder of Loudpixel, a consultancy specializing in web development and online learning. Jeff was a student of the standards-based web design movement and writes articles and tutorials aimed at helping new web designers get started in the craft.

Product Details

  • Series: Head First
  • Paperback: 500 pages
  • Publisher: O'Reilly Media; 1st edition (January 2, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0596520301
  • ISBN-13: 978-0596520304
  • Product Dimensions: 9.2 x 8.1 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (26 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #76,682 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
49 of 49 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent - but watch the typos April 7, 2009
As a member of its target audience, I found this to be a tremendous book. It's perfect for web developers who know (X)HTML and CSS but are clueless when it comes to the design process itself. The only thing to beware of is the large number of errors that should have been caught in the editing process.

I do a decent amount of PHP/MySQL and Javascript/AJAX work, so I have to already know how HTML & CSS operate. I don't need to be told what a div element is, or what a style declaration looks like. I am the least creative person on the planet, though, and this book feels like it was written specifically for me. I can't think of higher praise than that. It takes you through the process of building a site - not just what a good webpage looks like, but how a whole site is structured and fits together and ways to make that come alive through design. I never felt confused, but never felt like the authors were moving too slowly, either.

This is my third book by Head First (I also have the HTML and AJAX books), so I already knew that I liked the Head First writing style - perhaps a little light on technical side, but the lessons get driven home. The reader simply retains material from these books, and that is tough to find in most technical books on the market.

Again, the only thing to watch out for is the sloppy editing; there were a few too many editing errors for my taste. I still gave the book five stars, though, because it was just that good.
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30 of 31 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Finally A Web Design Book For The Entire Process February 13, 2009
Head First Web Design is a invaluable tool in planning and building web sites and follows the excellent pedagogical principles of other books
in the Head First series. It is also unique in teaching the entire life cycle of building a usable, information-rich, beautiful, navigable, and accessible web site, and not being confined to illustrating the graphical layout of beautiful web pages. It illustrates, the sketching, information design, navigation, and customer interaction issues involved in developing a sophisticated, content-filled web site and prepares the developer to perform a well-managed design and implementation process. The guide does assume that the prospective web designer have familiarity with HTML, XHTML, and CSS, but that is an entirely reasonable assumption for any web designer and is well served by the HTML/XHTML volume in the Head First Series. This is an excellent and most necessary book for the design of sophisticated information architectures, and usable beautiful web sites that serve both the user and the organization that commissioned them.
--Ira Laefsky
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18 of 19 people found the following review helpful
Don't let the cover deter you... there's a wealth of knowledge beneath it. As a somewhat practiced web-developer, I found this book to be quite a fresh and at times rather humorous approach to a subject many of us tend to marginalize in our work: the design process. From devising color schemes to navigation and content hierarchies, the book covers a lot ground and contains some pretty good exercises (though none too technical) for both novice and experienced web designers/developers. Naturally, it does a great job of illustrating how implementing good design practices in your work will translate into (and improve) your coding. I particularly found the chapter on Accessibility to be rather useful, as it is another thing a lot of us tend to forget about when creating websites...On that count, I am guilty as charged.
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20 of 25 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brain-friendly Web Design 101 January 28, 2009
Head First brought us another a masterpiece in the usual brain-friendly way. After studying this book you'll 'master' pre-production, information architecture, navigation, color, and even accessibility.

WHO IS THIS BOOK FOR? If you can answer 'YES' to all of these;
1) you're comfortable with XHTML & CSS but don't have experience with web design.
2) do you consider yourself a web developer (PHP, Ruby on Rails, .NET) and want to become a better web designer?
3) do you need to understand web design for a course or your line of work?

TABLE OF CONTENTS (in brakets are my comments)
1 Building Beautiful Web Pages (know your audience, design for your users)
2 Pre-Production (start with paper, pencil, and a big fat pink eraser)
3 Organize Your Site
4 Layout and Design (some golden rules incl the Golden Ratio)
5 Desinging With Color (the color wheel & more ... excellent!)
6 Smart Navigation
7 Writing For The Web ( different!)
8 Accesibility
9 Listen to Your Users
10 Evolutionary Design (keeping your site fresh/design updated)
11 The Business of Web Design (great basic stuff for those turning 'pro')
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good Web Design Principles May 31, 2009
Overall this book gave good advice. It was centered in design principles you'll have in a systems design course and adopts many of the same principles that are in design books. Easily explained, assumes you already have knowledge of xhtml, css, javascript although none are required to understand content.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Simplified and Intuitive August 26, 2009
If you want a simple aproach to design web sites, especially if you are a developer, this book is for you.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good for the design-challenged January 6, 2013
I come from the programming side of things and design is a challenge for me. This is the first web design book I've picked up that has decent coverage of information architecture, and the examples of doing a card sort have clicked for me far better than my software engineering texts.

You need to be comfortable with HTML and CSS to use this book. There is a small amount of CSS review (explaining what a <div> is, how you can use CSS to change the look of your site), but you won't learn CSS from scratch here.

The writing style takes a bit to get used to. I fought against it in a different book in this series, but with this book I'm starting to enjoy the style. YMMV.

I do worry about the typos a lot. Was there even an editor for this book? The constant misuse of "it's" is jarring, and makes me wonder what else was missed. I expected better from an O'Reilly book in this regard, so minus one star.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Awesome Book
I've just get started in Web design and I was looking for a book and found this book, it's awesome.
Published 5 months ago by Francisco Javier Gutierrez
4.0 out of 5 stars Good Book
It definitely takes you from 0 skill to moderate skills in designing a web site. As a beginner I found it very useful in teaching me designs, coloring and layouts of web sites.
Published 10 months ago by marc
5.0 out of 5 stars Needed a fresh perspective...
Although I don't design web sites for a living, I do manage my own for my business. Also, I have been asked by a local company or two to refresh their sites. Read more
Published 11 months ago by Donn Dunkel
3.0 out of 5 stars Not bad, but maybe not for me
They're not misleading, and I did read the entire book, but it just didn't fit well with me. It's meant more for web designers, visual artists. Read more
Published 13 months ago by A. L. Arizpe
3.0 out of 5 stars Needb more tme to evaluste.
I haven't really been committed to, using it. I looked sat the accompanying source code and found nothing useful. I'll get back to it after PHP and SQL.
Published 14 months ago by 4lydia
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Resource
I love love love this book. It has a wonderful way of explaining web design in way that is easy to get. Read more
Published 14 months ago by WebNmind
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Book
This is a very good book on web design. I like that it takes you through the thought process of creating a site. Read more
Published 23 months ago by H. Dixon
4.0 out of 5 stars Web Design
The book was in very good condition and the seller send at the promese time. It a good company because the explaned step by step how to work with the book.
Published on May 14, 2012 by joleon
3.0 out of 5 stars Ask Felgall - Book Review
For the most part, this book is an excellent introduction to web design allowing you to learn by doing. Read more
Published on December 13, 2011 by Stephen Chapman
5.0 out of 5 stars Head First Web Design
I gave this book 5 stars because of the many aspects for web design it offers. It gives you some ideas on the actual design process and how to organize and clarify the site. Read more
Published on July 24, 2011 by M. Antry
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